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Unread 12-06-2005, 10:21 PM
lukevanoort lukevanoort is offline
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what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

Okay, I've meant to post this for a while.

At my team's school (I've moved but still participate) there is this thing called Ag day. The Agricultural Department has a fairish thing where the display tractors, tables, chickens, pigs, etc., and all the extra-curricular clubs and teams recruit, and raise money. Now, due to the fact that FIRST is so pricey we don't really focus on raising money, we recruit. So, we decided to have a $1.00 USD price for 1 min of robot driving time, and if you got the highest score of the day you won a $15.00 USD gift cert to Best Buy. We decided to use our easiest to drive robot, OCCAM 2, from '02. At the time OCCAM 2 was just a drill powered RWD box, the goal gripper and ball shooter (CIM driven wheel on a ramp) were disabled for safety reasons. We made a soccer inspired field that was basicly a few 2x4s or 2x6s making low wall about ~10'x8'. One side had a little pocket for scoring old playground balls left over from an earlier year. Well, our first driver utterly failed at scoring since all he did was wheelies, cracking the wood our front casters were mounted on. Then we had a few normal people that were pretty bad drivers, but since most of them had never even heard of tank drive, that's expected. Then we had this one girl, who I think was a school cheerleader, or somebody told me she was. Well I don't think she quite grasped that the joysticks weren't on/off switches and she slammed the robot around in wheelie-turns and into the little wall we had made, then, somehow, she drove over the wall, then back. Somewhere in there she shredded a drill tranny, so all it did was turn, but this girl I don't think was FIRST material, since she didn't realize there was a problem, and kept jerking the one joystick that had an effect. Well, this was getting out of hand and a bit dangerous, so one of our team members (not me, I'm not brave enough) jumped on the robot (literally!) to hit the master breaker, incredibly she kept jerking the robot as he held on for dear life. He did manage to hit the breaker and disable the robot, so then she lauged, got up, and left. WHAT!!?? So now all OCCAM 2 is is a paper wieght, and she thought this was funny? Have any of the rest of you had FIRSTer/nonFIRSTer problems like this? How do you deal with them? This was last year, by the way, so cluebats are not a solution. I ask because we're trying to get better PR within the school, and this clearly didn't work, so we'd like to avoid any other minefields.
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Unread 12-06-2005, 10:34 PM
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

Simple solution, never give a nonFIRSTER complete control of a robot.. I have seen injuries from this concept.
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Unread 12-06-2005, 10:49 PM
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

In 2003, a reporter from CTV got her hands on the controls for a live Blizzard 4 at the GTR. Unfortunately, she neglected to account for two things: that robot was fast as hell, and the tether was only 6' long. It pulled the tether connector off of the RC, and we ended up borrowing a control system from IFI....
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Unread 12-06-2005, 10:52 PM
greencactus3 greencactus3 is offline
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

or use software or mechanical means to limit output. if you used the drill tranny simpling putting it into 1st gear is one way. use the clutch... dont let them rip it to shreds... ALWAYS have a remote safety disable switch. easiest way i can think of is have oi ac adapter ready to get pulled from the wall.
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Unread 12-06-2005, 11:14 PM
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

I know the first instinct would be to hit the breaker on the robot, which I have had to do during a demo as well...

But wouldn't the first thing to do if something like this happened be to unplug the Control system?? Wouldn't that do the same thing as shutting off the master power breaker and be much safer?

Obviously would still you want someone/something (fence) around to make sure people stay away from the robot when it is in operation.
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Unread 12-06-2005, 11:20 PM
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

This is easy.

First, you can respect the girl a bit more by leaving out, "she was a cheerleader," the next time you tell the story. It's irrelevant and sexist.

Second, you can invite her to join the team. You can keep her from breaking things in the future by teaching her how they work.

Third, you can work with her to build a robot that doesn't break when the next "cheerleader" comes along and takes it for a spin.
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Unread 12-06-2005, 11:21 PM
greencactus3 greencactus3 is offline
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elgin Clock
I know the first instinct would be to hit the breaker on the robot, which I have had to do during a demo as well...

But wouldn't the first thing to do if something like this happened be to unplug the Control system?? Wouldn't that do the same thing as shutting off the master power breaker and be much safer?

Obviously would still you want someone/something (fence) around to make sure people stay away from the robot when it is in operation.
well just one thing that could go wrong. the victors arent calibrated and once the RC loses signal the motors go crazy= robot goes crazy= you hoping the battery runs low SOON. actually im not sure if thats the victors or what, but it has happened before...
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Unread 12-06-2005, 11:23 PM
Kims Robot's Avatar Unsung FIRST Hero
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

One thought... non-FIRSTer's dont realize how delicate these big hunks of machinery actually are. They are used to RC cars that can be run into walls, driven over sanddunes, and played with by 2-year-olds. So the concept of a big hunk of metal that you put your SOUL into for 6 weeks, but that isnt shock & vibe proof, hasnt crossed their minds!! Be wary!

Two "sorta" similar stories.

1. (my favorite): As I mention in this Essay while I was still in HS, we were rushing around putting the robot back together before a match at championships, and before the days of the great amphenol battery connectors *gasp* (yes there was such a day!) one of our mechanical engineers threw the battery in, and wired it up backwards!! Luckily FIRST was smart enough to make us install master fuses back then, and we just blew that. But its why mechanical engineers should stick to mechanical things (and electrical engineers to electrical things!!)

2. An opposing story to what you wrote above... we gave two rookie teams robots for the Ruckus off season event, both drove the robots only once before that day... and BOTH made it into alliances opposing eachother in the finals!! Amazing job for not-yet-FIRSTers
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Unread 12-06-2005, 11:28 PM
greencactus3 greencactus3 is offline
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

well non FIRSTer is a bad term. non robotics associated person would be better. ive done FIRST once, and the rest of my team has never done FIRST yet. but i would trust many with anything ive put my everything into for 6 weeks. OCCRA... ahh. good times..
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Unread 12-06-2005, 11:29 PM
sanddrag sanddrag is offline
back to school ;-)
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by M. Krass
Third, you can work with her to build a robot that doesn't break when the next "cheerleader" comes along and takes it for a spin.
I like this option. From some previous post I made "If you don't like contact, your robot is not built well enough." If you can't put your robot in the hands of someone who hasn't driven it before, without having fear of breaking it, I'd say it isn't built well enough.

Also, a disable switch is always a great idea. (or even pulling the power from the OI)
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Last edited by sanddrag : 12-06-2005 at 11:46 PM.
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Unread 12-06-2005, 11:38 PM
Jeff Rodriguez Jeff Rodriguez is offline
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tristan Lall
In 2003... It pulled the tether connector off of the RC...
That's why you never screw in the tether. A quick yank and it can come out.
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Unread 12-07-2005, 12:12 AM
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ogre
That's why you never screw in the tether. A quick yank and it can come out.
Believe me, that's been impressed upon everybody, ever since.
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Unread 12-07-2005, 07:15 AM
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

well, this year there is an easy solution. Make a custom port for the competition feed. it uses a standard port and 759 mounted a couple of switches and wired it into the port (don't ask me how, i don't have a clue ) and you can just emulate the pressure pad with a switch
or you can hit the robot reset on the oi and run whilst its resetting itself
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Unread 12-07-2005, 11:00 AM
kio_chan176 kio_chan176 is offline
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

Team 25 just made a game using a simple robot arm. It had no base so you couldn't drive it and the arm was only able to move very, very slowly. There was a hook at the end, which could pose a potential danger, but we made sure no one was anywhere near our arm. The goal of the game was stack mini tetras on various goals. This game was displayed at Brunswick Eruption 4.0.

JUST IN CASE anything went wrong, we had a switch close and ready for safety's sake.
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Unread 12-07-2005, 11:29 AM
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Re: what happens when you give a nonFIRSTER a robot?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Denman
well, this year there is an easy solution. Make a custom port for the competition feed. it uses a standard port and 759 mounted a couple of switches and wired it into the port (don't ask me how, i don't have a clue ) and you can just emulate the pressure pad with a switch
or you can hit the robot reset on the oi and run whilst its resetting itself
Team 1318 made a box that did that in 2004, and used it again in 2005. It is a small grey box you just plug into one of the ports, with a switch for disable and a switch for autonomous mounted in it. Whenever, wherever and whoever is driving the robot, no matter how much (or how little) experience they had, we made sure to always have someone manning that switch with their finger over the disable button, just in case something went wrong.

That allows us to feel more safe with letting people not on the team drive the robot at promotions and things (although we always make sure that they have plenty of space, and always have someone there to advise them when they're doing something wrong).

We have only run into a problem with this setup one time. We were practicing with our robot in the hallways of our school once (they are open air and quite large, nearly as wide as the 2005 field if I remember it correctly). It was after the season, and we were trying to get some members of the team who hadn't been drivers to learn how to control the robot. Somehow, one member of our team got the robot shooting full speed towards a wall. Realizing his mistake, he quickly tried to pull back on the joystick and stop the robot, which probably would have worked. However, the person with the disable switch had seen the problem too and instinctively shut down the robot, so there was no way to slow it down! Luckily all that happened was that we got a little scuff mark on the corner of our chassis (our school's walls are painted concrete, you couldn't even notice the scratch on them).

The moral of this story: Only use the disable switch if the thing you want to stop hasn't started yet, or the driver tells you to. Sometimes it is easier for a (trained) driver to correct a problem than for you to just freeze it.

Edit: changed a few erroneous facts about our box - whoops

Last edited by sciencenerd : 12-07-2005 at 11:38 AM.
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